The marshes of Charente Maritime

Marais de Genouillé

The Marais de Genouillé is a Special Conservation Area (stopping place for migrating birds and nesting site for many bird species), part of a 16,000 hectare nature reserve starting at Fier d'Ars on the Ile de Ré.

It is a fragile eco-system whose network of canals and ditches are home to frogs and toads, fish, mammals (coypus, otters …), beetles and butterflies (among others the Salt Marsh Copper).
This biotope provides food for a number of species: white storks, grey herons, little egrets, black terns. Plant life is also well defined: yellow and blue iris, orchids, wild sorrel, lentils, wild carrots... (CMT)
 

Marais de La Seudre

The Seudre marshes form a well-defined geographical and human area on both banks of the Seudre, a 20 km long sea inlet rather than estuary, given that the fluvial waters of this little coastal river drain principally into the Gironde, upstream of the little port of Ribérou (Saujon), and downstream its waters come mainly from the sea.

The tides soak into the many marshy channels which, since Neolithic times, have made life (in its broadest sense) possible. Human settlements and Gallic salt works, Gallo-Roman villas were replaced in the early Middle Ages by a more sustainable use of the area with tidal water mills, fish pools and salt marshes, protected by a system of “taillées” (dykes) which have shaped the landscape. In the 19th century oyster farming replaced what had become the salt store for France and part of Europe.
With the wind in your face and binoculars hung over your shoulder, enjoy a hike or cycle ride around this lovely, marshy area where orchids, mustard, blackthorn and tamarisk flower in spring. The Marais de la Seudre are a beautiful haven of peace and quiet, just a few kilometres from the bustling seaside resorts of the Gironde estuary and the Ile d'Oléron. (Patricia Piel)

Le marais Poitevin

This wet marsh covers an area of 15,000 hectares, a veritable maze of canals, of every shade of green, split between three departments: Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres and Vendée.

The Parc Interrégional du Marais Poitevin has been awarded Grand Site de France status, the 7th such site in France.
The wet marsh, better known as “la Venise verte” (green Venice) is criss-crossed by 4,000 km of canals, large, small and in-between! On a trip through this marsh you will see nothing but water, bordered with ash, alder and willow trees, a symphony in green. You can understand why this wet marsh is seen as the second largest in France after the Camargue.
It’s best to hire a boat if you want to take a proper tour of the wet marsh. We recommend that you take a trip with a boatman-guide who will be happy to tell you tales of the marshes. He might even give you the water-fire demonstration! The boatman stirs up the silt with his oar, holds a cigarette lighter close to the surface of the water and the gas, released from the silt, rises to the surface and ignites!
Most villages in the marsh have a landing stage. In the Charente Maritime there is a little harbour at La Grève-sur-le Mignon and a landing stage for the Marais Bazoin at La Ronde. (CMT).

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